Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Ehrmann - May 13, 1983


Was the community also close-knit?

The community was close-knit. We had one community, there was no division uh, no formal division. Uh, it was Orthodox. Uh, we had a regular uh, tax, a Jewish community tax, levied at every member of the community except those who were not financially able to pay. In addition to the--I'm pretty sure it was a yearly uh, fee like uh, pretty much like we have here, a yearly membership in the synagogue, we did not have synagogue membership as such uh--in addition to that, we had to pay for every fowl or, or that was killed by the shochet uh, which went into the community coffers.

What was that money used for?

It was used to--for number one, pay the rabbi, pay the uh, schochtim, we had uh, two, at one time, we had three.

These were the ritual slaughterers?

These were the ritual slaughterers. Right. Uh, to pay the teachers in the cheder. Uh, we had regular uh, uh, help, financial help, extended to those unfortunate in the community or even, even surrounding communities, who needed it. It was sort of like a free loan uh, organization, even outright gifts. In addition to that, we had uh, members of the community, there were some uh, old widows who uh, couldn't afford, either they too old or they were just plain uh, poor, they had no income. Uh, my mother regularly--every Friday without fail, rain or shine, winter or summer, made no difference, we went to two women and brought half a chicken, raw chicken to them, some vegetables, some fruit, a challa, that was every Friday. In addition to that, there was an old man in the community who went around to every family and collected a challa or two, that's the only thing he collected and he uh, distributed among those who couldn't afford to buy or bake challa. Uh, it was a community minded congregation.

Did--was the Jewish community segregated from the non-Jewish community?

Uh, geographically, no.

So, you had neighbors who were non-Jewish?

We--everybody had neighbors who were non-Jews. There was no such thing--it was a small town--there was no such thing as a Jewish area or Jewish quarter. Um, there were some courtyards where two, three families, or maybe even four families, lived together. Um, two or three of them were all Jewish or, or maybe there was two Jews in a courtyard with three non-Jews um, but other than that--even around the synagogue uh, there were Jews and non-Jews.

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